Are you considering joining more than 7 million homeowners in towns across the UK, who have completely paved over their front gardens, in order to ensure they’ve got an off-street parking space? Yes, sadly, the pockets of greenery in front of houses in our cities are steadily disappearing, which has a devastating effect on our urban environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are various front garden design alternatives that can integrate both thriving plant life and a consciously planned area to park your vehicle. 

So, if you’re interested in:

  • how to create an environmentally-friendly parking spot within your front garden;
  • build a driveway without compromising the green and colourful look of your front garden;
  • the ways of accommodating your home parking needs, with Nature’s well-being in mind;

This post is just for you! We’ll discuss what considerations you should take into account when redesigning your front green space to get the best of both worlds.

Table of Contents:

Parking space vs. front garden – a modern-life dilemma in the UK

But first things first. Let’s see why so many folks have turned (or considering to) their green patch in front of their homes into a mini car park.

The obvious pros of a front drive-in garden

Well, imagine the daily stress of finding a parking space on your street after a hard day’s work, despite forking out a substantial amount of money for an annual residents’ parking permit! So, let’s take a closer look at why including an off-road parking space into your front garden can be an ideal solution for you.

  • Financial cost – Depending on where you live, you can be looking at paying annually from £100 up to over £1,200 (in some expensive-to-live boroughs in London) for the privilege to park near your home. Then, add an additional permit, say, for your wife’s car, which is always dearer, and you get the picture.
  • Security – Vehicle-related crime in the UK, be it a break-in or outright theft, is common and has been steadily on the rise. Naturally, this risk is significantly lower if your car is parked behind gates on your private property.
  • Daily hassle – If your street is rather busy, struggling to park every day can be the norm, right? And who needs this headache when the only thing on your mind is to go home and relax?
  • Grievance from neighbours – And related to the above is the likelihood of having regular fall-outs with your neighbours, especially if your family’s got more than one vehicle that needs to be parked on the street for the night.
  • Increased property value – Of course, putting your house on the market, after you’ve added a private parking area, will give you the chance to sell faster and get a better price for your property.

Right then, that’s cleared. We all understand the advantages of having a guaranteed private and secure parking spot. But this doesn’t need to be done at the expense of plant life that has been blooming in your front garden!

The benefits of keeping your front garden green

You may have heard of the RHS’s project – Greening Great Britain, which aims at working in partnership with various communities throughout the UK (including Greater London), in order to make front gardens green again. However, this doesn’t exclude the option of still having a driveway at the front of your home. So, below, we list the reasons behind the Royal Horticultural Society’s initiative, as well as some other benefits that you can enjoy if you have plants in your front outdoor space.

  • Better quality of air – CO2 emissions and rising urban temperatures (the heat effect) are counteracted by greenery and plant life in urban settings.
  • Reduced risk of flooding – Completely paved front gardens can increase the risk of flooding issues.
  • Great property curb appeal – A well-designed garden, full of colours, plays a huge role in how your property looks.
  • Noise reduction – Hedges, trees and bushes block out well traffic noise and sound coming from your neighbour’s garden.
  • A good selling point – Potential buyers or tenants will appreciate an aesthetically looking front garden, too.
  • Pleasant environment for your family – You might be using your backyard more to relax, but imagine walking in every day back from work to the beautiful scent of a rose bush, you’ve planted at the front.

You see, you can’t beat the pros of living in a home with a pretty green front outdoor area. So, we now get to the point of how to make your front garden nice while still accommodating your parking needs.

Front garden parking ideas and considerations 

The main question is how to fit a parking area in your front garden the smart way, so it looks pleasing to the eye, serves your vehicle needs well and remains friendly to Nature. 

Go for a permeable hard surface

As mentioned earlier, paving a section of your garden with non-porous material is not an eco-friendly way to go, even if you ensure good drainage. Also, installing an impermeable driveway, more often than not, requires the approval of your local council. Some of the popular pervious parking materials that people decide on using are made from matrix pavers, brick pavers, land-based gravel, interlocking concrete blocks, pea shingle and more. Furthermore, a great choice is to use resin bound surfacing for your driveway or reinforce a grass patch by installing open-cell concrete or plastic matrix in a honey-comb pattern. All these alternatives allow for rainwater to get effectively absorbed and thus, the risk of flooding is practically non-existent.

Consider your garden size

Most town front gardens are generally on the small side. And this naturally raises the question of how to actually add a parking space and still have the opportunity to have plants. Well, it’s simple. You can go for a vertical garden design by planting climbers along the facade of your house and side fence, for instance. Also, hanging baskets, trellises, frame structures, terracotta pots, plant holders are all going to resolve garden-space issues, of course. And surely, there will always be space for a flowering bush or evergreen shrub to grow in the corner or near that curve of your newly installed driveway. 

Keep it low-maintenance

You can invest all your efforts and plant knowledge in your backyard, where you can experiment with growing capricious flowers and have the perfect lawn. So, keep your front garden simple and easy to maintain by planting hardy perennials along edges or creating pockets of greenery in between a gravel pathway and your parking area, made from the same material. Creating a low-maintenance gravel front garden can really be the option for you, as it does not require anything more than keeping hardscape areas clear of leaves and debris and the occasional watering of your succulents or flowering ground covers if needs be.

Be creative with your car park front design

Leave standard rectangular shapes to the unimaginative and bring some energy and flow by curving your vehicle-purpose hardscaping feature. Or add green shades in your front garden by grass-seeding the space between slabs to create an attractive grid-like driveway. You can also break the square look of your front outdoors by introducing box-shaped flower beds in an irregular pattern that will successfully draw the eye away from your parking area. To create your raised garden boxes, you can use either treated wood or red bricks. Also, play with colours to create contrast between vertical and ground hard surfaces on one hand and plant life – on the other.

No need to break the bank, either

Yep, you can use recycled materials to build your parking area. For instance, you can have an easy-to-install driveaway, made from old railway sleepers, bordered with off-white gravel. The mixture of materials, combined with some dark-green ground covers can create an attractive, yet practical textured front garden feature. It’s best if you seal the wooden slabs individually to protect them from water damage while still allowing rainwater to get absorbed through the tiny gaps between them. Using reclaimed bricks is another cost-effective option to build a Nature-friendly parking area. The beauty here is that you can play with shape and design much more easily, as you can create a curved-shape parking feature when laying the bricks.

Comply with dropped-kerb legislation

More likely than not, your driveway will be joining the footway that runs along the street you live on. And the law says that you cannot drive over the pavement kerb to access your property on a daily basis. So, you’ll need to apply with your local council and get permission to add a dropped kerb to your driveway. Your local authorities will give you all the information, regarding the approval of your crossover installation application. There are quite a few considerations to take into account during the approval process of your vehicle access permission. Is the dropped kerb going to affect a nearby tree, or a telegraph or street lighting pole? Will you need gated access, in which case, will the gate open inwards or outwards? So, take this step seriously and get your drop kerb permission well before you proceed with making any changes to your front garden!

Ensure drainage with impervious parking spaces

If you decide on using impermeable material for your front garden parking area, you will also need to apply for planning permission with the local authorities if it’s going to be over 5 sq.m in size. You will not be granted approval unless you exhibit adequate planning for rainwater drainage. To avoid flooding issues, rainwater should drain into a pervious surface, which could be a flowerbed, for instance. Also, your council will look into other aspects of your property, whether it’s part of a Conservation area or is considered a World Heritage Site.

Get landscaping and paving professionals to help you out

Creating an aesthetic and environmentally friendly front garden that is still practical and serves your vehicle parking needs is not that difficult, especially if you entrust the job to professional landscapers, or garden design and hardscaping experts. We, at Fantastic Services, provide all-inclusive landscaping and paving services, which can cater to your individual front-garden-related requirements. Our company works with skilled and experienced professionals in the field, who can tailor the service for you to bring your front garden design project ideas to life with your personal vision in mind. Whether you want to green up your already paved-up space at the front of your home or you wish to install a resin bound surface for your parking needs, we can help!

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Takeaways

  • If you’re thinking of including a parking area in your front garden, do consider joining in the communal efforts of Greening Great Britain – an ongoing project of the RHS.
  • Don’t forget to comply with all relevant legislation before embarking on your design project to avoid troubles with the authorities!
  • A convenient private off-road parking space doesn’t need to exclude having a thriving green front garden, that’s for sure!
  • You can enjoy the benefits of both by being creative and applying smart garden design techniques that offer you the practicality of parking your vehicle securely and the option of still having a splash of colours that adds to the overall look of your house.

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Did you find some useful ideas in our article? Or have you already resolved your parking needs in front of your home? How? Share with us in the comments below!

Posted in Garden Advice, Landscaping Projects

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